Do your conflicts turn into fights? It’s time for you and your partner to start using a technique that I like to call “Talk to the Face.”
Picture this. You’re frustrated because your partner is not getting it.
And by “it”, I mean your perspective.
Are they even listening? Why isn’t this getting through their head? Don’t they care about the way you feel? You explain to them why you’re upset. You explain how you’re affected by what they’re doing.
And to be honest, you feel strongly that you’re right and you want them to know it. You want to make sure they agree with you, and you need their validation. You basically beg them to see things the way you do…but it’s too late.
The milk has gone sour. The tables have turned. It’s like a volcanic eruption and they begin spewing out words they probably don’t even mean. Now, you’re crying and yelling. Those hurtful words will ring in your head for years to come, every time you have an argument. This is a fight now, no doubt about it.
But what if you could avoid ALL of this?!! Turns out, you can.
Timing is everything.
In my practice I observe a lot of couples who have fights like this. It starts with an issue – something that seems trivial, even – and becomes explosive.
In this situation, one partner does not feel seen or heard. They feel dismissed. They’re trying to communicate, which is great! But what doesn’t work is the timing.
When you come to your partner with an issue and begin making your point, they might go into defensive mode. They get irritated or they might even begin to shut down emotionally. Their body tenses up as if they’re in battle. They’re feeling attacked, and you’re just trying to get them to see your side of things!
This moment is pivotal.
You’re desperately trying to feel seen and heard – but unfortunately, the effect is that you stop seeing and hearing your partner.
You know your partner. You know how they look when they’re sad, confused, angry, or hurting. Certain muscles tense up or relax as you’re expressing yourself to them. Are they in distress?
The face of a human being does not lie. Despite what you’re feeling right now, it’s essential to check in with your partner’s emotions too!
In this moment, their face reflects the mental and emotional state they’re in – and THIS is where this technique comes in. You get to switch your mindset from “me” to “we” and begin talking to their face.
Talk to the Face.
The remedy to these explosive fights is pretty straightforward: Talk to their face, read their emotions and respond accordingly.
If you see that they are in distress, stop!
Sometimes we need a break to process before we can communicate effectively. Take a breath and agree to return to your conversation at a certain time or when you both feel safe doing so.
Fighting is an art.
Sometimes the things that sound the easiest, are the most difficult to do.
This is one of those things. It’s going to be VERY tempting to continue trying to explain yourself. It will require practice to effectively develop restraint in moments like this! But I know you can do it, because I have helped hundreds of people master this. Trust me, this technique will change the way you argue and the outcome will be different.
However, this does need to be a partner sport. Let me explain…
Let’s say you stop. You see that they’re upset so you begin talking to their face, and you realize that you both need a breather. If your partner is unaware of this technique, they might start talking to fill the silence in the moment – and they might further exacerbate the misunderstandings and miscommunications you’re having. The thing is, you both need to stop.
Talk to the Face needs to be a mutual, shared agreement. It’s collaborative. It’s like a dance.
The agreement looks like this:
“When we observe that this isn’t going to be healthy or productive, we stop, take a break, and come back when it will be healthy and productive.”
It’s like magic.
This is more than just taking a break – it’s a fundamental shift in how you approach dialogue with your partner. What is their face telling you?
You can do this!
Start by making this agreement and practicing it.
This may take time. If you haven’t mastered it together yet and you have another explosive fight, don’t give up – try again next time. Talk to your significant other about how it could have gone differently and what you’ll do to change your approach during your next disagreement.
Relationships enrich our lives and give us an opportunity to improve our communication skills.
This is an exciting chance to develop a skill that you can use in all facets of your life – with your family, coworkers and your friends.
It’s life changing and it works.